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How to Use Shutter Priority Mode

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

How to Use Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter priority mode is the mode you should be using when your shutter speed is the most important element in your shoot. It allows you to choose your shutter speed and the camera will automatically adjust your aperture and exposure around these settings. This article will tell you all you need to know about this mode so you can use it correctly. 

Is Shutter Priority Mode Available on All Cameras?

Shutter priority mode may not be available on every camera, but it can be found on most of them. These include DSLR, interchangeable lens, mirrorless models, advanced compact models and even some phones with manual controls. 

When Should I Use Shutter Priority Mode? 

Here are a few instances where shutter priority mode may come in handy: 

  • When you are trying to stop action and need the shutter speed to be set faster than your subject’s movements. 

  • When you are trying to get blur in your image and need the shutter speed to be slower than your subject’s movements. 

  • When you are trying to get your shutter speed high enough to minimize camera shake. 

  • When the light is changing, or the subject is moving erratically.

How to Use Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter priority mode is simple to use. Just set it for the desired speed and the camera will do the rest. 

The mode is usually controlled by an S on the mode dial, but some older cameras may call it Tv for time value. Depending on how your camera works, you may be able to activate it with a dial or a quick menu. 

The camera will tell you your shutter speed. ½ is half a second, 2 is two settings. There is also a B or bulb setting that leaves the shutter open between button presses. This is a good mode for astrophotography.

Choosing a Speed

The speed you choose will depend on what you’re photographing. Generally, you will want to stay with 1/80 as your slowest setting and 1/125 as your fastest setting. Keep in mind that the slower you go, the higher your risk of camera shake will be. 

Other Settings to Consider

Although Shutter Priority Mode will set your settings for you, you will have some freedom to play around to improve your images. Here are some settings you can work with. 

  • Meter and Exposure Compensation: The camera will not always offer you the proper exposure. If your photos are coming out too dark or too light, you may have to use exposure compensation to make up for it.  

  • Autofocus: Focus may also be an issue. If you are getting blurry pics, try using autofocus options that limit the area like expanded center point autofocus or center-point autofocus. 

  • ISO Sensitivity: ISO will typically set well in shutter priority mode, but you may see some issues if you are on the high end. Many cameras don’t do well with ISOs over 6400. If you are getting grainy images at high ISO settings, you may have to reduce your shutter speed. 

Shutter priority mode comes in handy when you really need to get on top of the action. Now that you know how to use it, you are ready to get some terrific shots. How will you be integrating it in your shoots? 

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